A SHOPKEEPER has pulled down the curtain on more than 20 years as one of East Lancashire's fancy dress kings.

Jeff Biddulph and Fancy That, in Burnley, have been the place to turn to for amateur dramatics companies for two decades and more.

Burnley FC footballers from the late 90s onwards - and Paul Gascoigne's friend Jimmy 'Five Bellies' Gardner when the midfielder was a Claret - have popped in from time to time.

And he's helped out more than a few panicky mums, facing a costume crisis when World Book Day rolls around each year

For the 72-year-old former carpet fitter, the daily contact with customers will perhaps be the thing he misses most.

While the shutters have come down on his Briercliffe Road shop, he's still sorting through some remaining stock, before the wholesalers pick through his rails.

An Aladdin's Cave of outfits, wigs and accessories greeted patrons the minute they stepped through the front door, alongside the mankinis, assorted police badges and wrestling championship belts.

"There's two rooms of costumes for hire upstairs as well - one room alone has been full of 60s and 70s costumes," he said.

"People have been coming in, since I said I was retiring, with cards and even a box of chocolates."

He invited friends from the likes of Pendle Hippodrome Theatre and Burnley's amateur dramatics community to have first dibs on his extensive collection, to supplement their wardrobes.

Jeff's foray into the fancy dress world came about after many years spent laying carpets. But with the passage of time he was looking for an occupation which was a little easier on the knees.

His wife Barbara had run the Allsorts card shop, further along Briercliffe Road, so other premises nearby, then a domestic appliance repair outlet, became available he took the plunge.

Another similar enterprise was just shutting up shop so with some sage advice, Fancy That was born.

For the first few months he still carried out carpet fittings until the early afternoon, then worked on establishing his fancy dress empire for the remainder of the day.

The father-of-four has five granddaughters and one great-granddaughter, so as well as occasionally helping out at Allsorts, he'll have his hands full.

If anyone would still like to view Jeff's remaining stock, he can be contacted on 07976 621636.